No seat of the pants flying at this commercial flight school, where technology is used to the full
Although a good deal of commercial flight students training is in a real aircraft thousands of feet up in the air, computerised learning also has an essential part to play. Oxford Aviation Academy is going through the process of revamping its infrastructure to cope with a global demand for new pilots.
January 27, 2012
1. Oxford flight
Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) is one of the premier commercial flight schools in the world. Headquartered in the UK, it operates 15 sites in Europe, Australia, the US and the far east. Although students log a significant amount of flight hours, the academy also operates 21 flight simulators to boost student's learning capabilities.
2. World connected
OAA operates 15 sites across the world, grown mostly out of acquisition since the company started in 1964. It suffered operationally from a homogeneous network, with no single WAN and no standards in hardware and software procurement. Commercial flight training is highly regulated, so the drive to achieve better control over the company's data was strong.
3. Op ex operation
OAA head of IT Stephan Potter has been working with outsourced comms provider Level 3 to introduced a hosted infrastructure and datacentre solution, which is procured through Op ex. This gives him and his team the breathing space to concentrate on business transformation projects.
4. Traffic control
OAA values the power of simulation very highly and strives to make students' learning environments as close to the real thing as possible. Even the campus at the academy's Oxford site used to be the traffic control centre for London Oxford Airport, where it is based, enhancing students' experience of operating in a real commercial environment.
5. Traffic scheduled
OAA training centres operate like real airports. Here, students are studying the academy's computerised flight scheduling system. Students have a required number of flight hours to complete before they can qualify, so it's vital that scheduling is correct.
6. Risks assessed
Integrated with the internal OAA flight scheduling system is a log of breaks in safety protocols. Safety is a very important part of pilots' training, and every breach is logged, however slight, so that the academy can recommend remedial training for students or alter courses to concentrate on problem areas.
7. Desk command
The amount of information OAA students have to process to gain the required level of knowledge is considerable. Not only does OAA produce its own learning materials, but it also markets it to third parties. Computer-based learning is a focus area for the academy, because it flexes the time students take out in theoretical study
8. Online learning
OAA has put its computer-based learning materials online, so that the various centres around the world can share the most up-to-date content. Students can also log in outside the classroom, giving them flexible study times that can fit around their flight training. This would not be possible with the academy's legacy systems.
9. Command skills
Much of OAA's teaching is not only around the operation of flight, but also the risk assessment skills and teamworking abilities required for large, passenger aircraft. It is much easier to teach these skills in a simulator than in the air. Instructors can stop the simulation mid-way to explain techniques as they are required.
10. The best view
OAA's advance courses use simulators specialised in particular types of aircraft, which students can use to learn how to operate particular types of aeroplanes. The most advanced simulators are hydrolically powered, to mimic the experience of flight. Students are filmed while in the simulations so that their performances can be played back to them.